Using complete breastfeeding and lactational amenorrhoea as birth spacing methods

Contraception. 2000 Apr;61(4):253-7. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(00)00101-3.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of lactational amenorrhoea and to determine the relationship between extended breastfeeding and the return of fertility. Breastfeeding pattern, basal body temperature, cervical mucus, salivary ferning, vaginal blood discharge, frequency of sexual intercourse, and the presence of ovulation in the first cycle after the resumption of menses with ultrasonography were evaluated in 40 women. All subjects completed the study with only one case of incomplete breastfeeding. No pregnancies were observed. The mean number of feeding sessions and mean interval between sessions decreased significantly (p <0.01) during the first six months postpartum (7.5 +/- 1.3 after 60 days postpartum vs. 5.7 +/- 2.1 after 180 days, and 3.6 +/- 0.8 vs. 5.1 +/- 0.9, respectively). Eight women (20%) menstruated before weaning, but none had an adequate thermal shift, while 32 (80%) had their first vaginal bleeding after weaning with 12 (37.5%) registering an adequate thermal shift. Both basal body temperature and salivary ferning proved to be suggestive of ovarian activity, while mucus characteristics were not reliable in identifying fertile periods. Our study showed that breastfeeding associated with lactational amenorrhoea proved to be a good method of postpartum fertility control. Since the importance of supplementation is still debated, it is recommended that a "complete" breastfeeding program be used.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea*
  • Body Temperature
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cervix Mucus
  • Coitus
  • Contraception
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Ovulation
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Uterine Hemorrhage